I had to move. Times were hard. Money was short. I had to downsize. This won’t be so bad. I am a simple man, I enjoy simple things.
I found a place. The Landlady loves me. She’s a nice Chinese lady. I was to move into the basement: The upstairs is cut off from the rest of the house. No one goes up; no one goes down—at least from the inside.
I was nervous. I had to meet the two dudes I was to live with downstairs. It’s never easy living with complete strangers, but I had to make this work. I signed a year lease.
I met Jacob, an old guy of about 60 who reminded me of “the dude.” Nice guy
I met Chester, a middle-aged man who looked suspiciously like Kim Thayil from Soundgarden. He seemed cool too.
He SEEMED cool.
Well he WAS cool.
We talked about politics, music, books. . We talked about the house rules. They seemed simple enough.
However, nothing is simple about Chester. He is a complicated man.
Although the notes he left on my door and around the house seemed very strange and even a bit creepy, I just thought he was a bit nit-picky if not OCD. I was right and I was wrong.
His rules include making sure you turn the door knob while you shut the door so it does not click loudly upon being shut. To him, that was SLAMMING the door.
“Brian, did you leave the bathroom door SHUT!” Chester shouted as he stormed out of his room clad in only his boxers, his dark, hairy and plump belly shaking with his fury.
“No, it was…”
Chester retreated back in his room. I ran into mine and SLAMMED my door—locked it.
“What, did I UPSET you?!” Chester inquired in a caustic tone. “You moved in with me; I didn’t move in with you!” DON'T SLAM THE DOOR!"
Chester was supposed to leave that hot September night to go to Wenatchee and earn some extra money picking apples. For some reason he seemed perturbed and out of his gourd. Clearly the man was having some sort of psychotic episode.
He was now in the shower. I could hear him from my room lathering himself furiously and making animalistic grunting noises. He got out of the shower and busted out of the bathroom. He changed faster than Superman in a phone booth and made a beeline from his room to the back door. The mad bear was now rustling outside. All that was left of his presence in the bathroom were pieces of his long, black hair, clinging to the tan tile in the shower and a tuft of his pubic hair in the toilet.
I was at a loss. What had I gotten myself into? Chester never came back home that night and poor old Jacob, who slept with his lights on, just kept waking up with what sounded like night terrors as he kept bellowing with deep, distant yells as if he saw Chester looking inside his room through his window with mad, bulging, infuriated eyes. I checked the deadbolt on my door more than once that night.
The next week I was walking on eggshells. Chester kept mostly to himself. However when he did make an appearance, he would usually remind me of some house rule that I had broken. The night before someone had left the back door unlocked. I HAD to make sure that never happened again.
“Brian, it might not mean that much to you. But it does to me. I have been involuntarily committed in three different states and spent time in jail. I learned to constantly watch my ass in prison too….” “I don’t even want to know what I would do if I saw an unfamiliar face come in here. I don’t want to get arrested for manslaughter.”
The day after this revealing conversation, I lied awake in my room as I heard the rabid alpha- wolf outside my door in the kitchen. Oh fuck, I thought to myself. What the fuck is he doing?
Then I heard a firm rapping at my door.
“Hey, you left the door open.”
My heart began to race uncontrollably as I imagined him trying to break in my room and shank me prison style. But instead he simply said in a soft and cryptic tone “I can be funny too. I can be funny too…”
As I heard him softly saunter back into his room, of course turning the door knob while he shut his door so that it did not make a clicking noise, my mind was reeling with thoughts about what he meant by funny. I had a strong feeling that his definition of ‘funny’ was not exactly the same as mine. I had to convince him that I was not intentionally messing with him, but he seemed to have chosen me as his new target. The nice plates and flatware, along with random food items, left by former tenants now made sense. Jacob had turned the music up loud in his room to drown out the ruckus outside his door. Or perhaps it was so I couldn’t hear his night-terror yelps. I hope the next tenant enjoys my new dishes…
(To be continued).